Skip to main content

Progress or More of the Same? Electronic Monitoring and Parole in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Abstract

Often billed as an “alternative to incarceration”, electronic monitoring (EM) is widely trumpeted as a key method of reducing incarceration costs while maintaining public safety. However, little research has been done which closely examines EM in the historical context of mass incarceration and the paradigm of punishment. This article focuses on the use of EM in parole in that broader context. Through research into the legal and policy frameworks for EM as well as via personal interviews with people who have been on EM while on parole, the author concludes that the present EM practice reinforces the dominant punishment paradigm and places major obstacles in the way of the successful re-entry for people returning from prison. He concludes with some concrete recommendations about changes in law, policy and implementation guidelines that would allow EM to operate in an environment more conducive to rehabilitation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Cited on web page http://berkeley.news21.com/behindbars/parole/tracked/ accessed 6-17-11.

  2. 2.

    There are a few exceptions. The work of Lilly (2006), Gable (n.d.), Payne et al. (2009), Shklovski et al. (2009), and Staples and Decker (2011) have pointed out some of the problematic aspects of electronic monitoring and house arrest. However, none fully situates the technology in the context of mass incarceration.

  3. 3.

    Important organizations in this movement include all of us or none, citizens united for rehabilitation (CURE), critical resistance, families against mandatory minimums, the Fortune Society, Justice Policy Institute, prison policy initiative, the real costs of prisons projects, and the sentencing project.

  4. 4.

    While a detailed analysis of the contemporary state is beyond the scope of this paper, it is worth noting that these three features of mass incarceration have not evolved in isolation. They reflect a broad process of the restructuring of the state along neoliberal lines during the same period. For our purposes, the key components of this restructuring involve de-emphasizing the welfare and taxing function of the state while prioritizing security and facilitating corporate profit opportunities. For more discussion of the changing role of the state and its link to mass incarceration see (Wacquant 2009a, b; Gilmore 2007; Gottschalk 2007; Parenti 1999).

  5. 5.

    Information on electronic monitoring regimes is drawn from Staples and Decker (2011), Bales et al. (2010), Shklovksi et al. (2009) along with my own personal experience and interviews with other people who have been on EM.

  6. 6.

    For this information about people on parole I have also drawn on my own experiences while in prison and on parole and interviews with other people who have been on EM and parole.

  7. 7.

    Amounts vary from state to state. California is relatively generous, providing $200 cash. Idaho, on the other hand provides only a suit of clothes, a bus ticket and a brown bag lunch. For state by state listings of this “gate money” visit the American Radioworks website: Hard Time: Life After Prison at: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/hardtime/gatemoney/index.html accessed September 7, 2012.

  8. 8.

    Information on the operations of EM programs comes from personal experiences, interviews with people who have been on EM and from Staples and Decker (2011), Bales et al. (2010), Shklovski et al. (2009).

  9. 9.

    The states I investigated were: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin.

  10. 10.

    Details of the Choice v. State case from http://tx.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.%5CTX%5CPLS%5C1991%5C19911120_0041690.TX.htm/qx, accessed July 21, 2011.

References

  1. Alexander, M. (2009). The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: The New Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bales, W., et al. (2010). A quantitative and qualitative assessment of electronic monitoring. Report Submitted to the Office of Justice Program National Institute of Justice US Department of Justice.

  3. Ballard, J., & Mullendore, K. (2002). Legal issues related to electronic monitoring programs. Journal of Offender Monitoring, 17.

  4. Braman, D. (2004). Doing time on the outside: Incarceration and family life in urban America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Burrell, W. (2007). “Introduction” perspectives. The Journal of the American Probation and Parole Association., 31(1), 25.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Burrell, W., & Gable, R. (2008). From B.F. Skinner to Spiderman to Martha Stewart: The past, present, and future of electronic monitoring of offenders. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 46(3/4), 101–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. California Penal Code. (2010). Article 2. Electronic monitoring. Section 3010–3010.9.

  8. Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio. (2011). Policy and procedures. Stryker, OH.

  9. Dart, T. (n.d.). Electronic monitoring. Cook County Sheriff’s report. Accessed at: http://cookcountysheriff.org/dcsi/electronicmonitoring.html on January 2, 2011.

  10. Davis, A. (2003). Are prisons obsolete?. New York: Open Media.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Davis, A. (2005). Abolition democracy: Beyond empire, prisons and torture. New York: Seven Stories Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. DeMichele, M., & Payne, B. K. (2009). Offender supervision with electronic technology (2nd ed.). Report for Bureau of Justice, Washington, DC.

  13. Development Services Group. (2009). Home confinement/electronic monitoring literature review. Report to Department of Justice, Washington, DC.

  14. Gable, R. (n.d.). My professional home page. Accessed at: http://rgable.wordpress.com/electronic-monitoring-of-criminal-offenders/. September 6, 2012.

  15. Gibbons Media and Research. (2012). GPS-aided monitoring of parolees: no privacy issues, just a large addressable market. Accessed at: http://www.insidegnss.com/node/3056. September 6, 2012.

  16. Gies, S., et al. (2012). Monitoring high risk sex offenders with GPS technology: An evaluation of California’s supervision program. Report for National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC.

  17. Gilmore, R. (2007). Golden gulag: Prisons, surplus, crisis, and opposition in globalizing California. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Glaze, L., & Bonczar, T. P. (2011). Probation and parole in the United States, 2010. Bureau of justice statistics bulletin. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Gottschalk, M. (2007). The prison and the gallows: The politics of mass incarceration in America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Guerino, P., et al. (2011). Prisoners in 2010. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Hallett, M. (2011). Reentry to what? Theorizing prisoner reentry in the jobless future. Critical Criminology. On line 6/1/11. Accessed at: http://critcrim.org/journal on June 15, 2011.

  22. Herivel, T., & Wright, P. (2007). Prison profiteers: Who makes money from mass incarceration?. New York: New Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Johnston, W. J. (2004). Let’s talk about … offender pay programs. Journal of Offender Monitoring, 11–20.

  24. Jolin, A., & Stipak, B. (1992). Drug and treatment and electronically monitored home confinement: An evaluation of a community-based sentencing option. Crime and Delinquency, 38(2), 158–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Jones, M., & Ross, D. (1997). Electronic house arrest and boot camp in North Carolina: Comparing recidivism. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 8(4), 383–403.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Justice Policy Institute. (2011). Gaming the system, how the political strategies of private prisons promote ineffective incarceration policies. Justice Policy Institute Report.

  27. Lilly, R. J. (2006). Issues beyond empirical EM reports. Criminology and Public Policy, 5(1), 93–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Lilly, R. J., et al. (1993). Electronic monitoring of the drunk driver: A seven-year study of the home confinement alternative. Crime and Delinquency, 39(4), 462–484.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Logan, C., & Gaes, G. (1993). Meta-analysis and the rehabilitation of punishment. Justice Quarterly, 10(2), 245–263.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Loury, G., et al. (2008). Race, incarceration, and American values. Boston: Boston Review/MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Marable, M., et al. (2007). Racializing justice, disenfranchising lives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  32. Mauer, M. (2006). The race to incarcerate. New York: The New Press.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Maxfield, M. G., & Baumer, T. L. (1990). Home detention with electronic monitoring: Comparing pre-trial and post-conviction programs. Crime and Delinquency, 36(4), 521–536.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Murphy, E. (2008). Paradigms of restraint. Duke Law Journal, 57, 1323–1361.

    Google Scholar 

  35. N.A. (1996) An annotated bibliography of electronic monitoring research and literature. Journal of Offender Monitoring, 9(1), 11–28.

  36. National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center. (1999). Online bulletin. National Institute of Justice. http://www.justnet.org/Lists/JUSTNET%20Resources/Attachments/859/Elec-Monit.pdf. Accessed July 9, 2011.

  37. Padgett, K., et al. (2006). Under surveillance: An empirical test of the effectiveness and consequences of electronic monitoring. Criminology and Public Policy, 5(1), 61–92.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Parenti, C. (1999). Lockdown America: Police and prisons in the age of crisis. New York: Verso.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Payne, B., et al. (2009). Attitudes about electronic monitoring: Minority and majority racial group differences. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37(2), 155–162.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Perkinson, R. (2010). Texas tough: The rise of America’s prison empire. New York: Metropolitan Books.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Petersilia, J. (2012). Looking back to see the future of prison downsizing in America. Keynote address to National Institute of Justice Conference, Arlington, VA, June 19.

  42. Pew Center on the States. (2011). State of recidivism: The revolving door of America’s prisons. Washington, DC: The Pew Center on the States.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Phelan, S. (2010) Who profits from ICE’s electronic monitoring anklets? San Francisco Bay Guardian. Online, March 16, accessed from: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2010/03/16/who-profits-ices-electronic-monitoring-anklets-0 on July 9, 2011.

  44. Raab, S. (1991). New York tests electronic ball and chain. New York Times. Accessed at: http://www.nytimes.com/1991/04/10/nyregion/new-york-tests-electronic-ball-and-chain.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm September 10, 2012.

  45. Reiman, J., & Leighton, P. (2006). The rich get richer and the poor get prison: Ideology, class, and criminal justice. New York: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Saletan, W. (2005). Call my cell: Why GPS tracking is good news for inmates. Slate. http://www.slate.com/id/2118117/. Accessed June 15, 2011.

  47. Schmidt, A. K. (1988). Use of electronic monitoring by criminal justice agencies. Report for National Criminal Justice Research Service, Washington, DC.

  48. Shklovski, I., et al. (2009) The commodification of location: Dynamics of power in location-based systems. Paper presented to the international conference on ubiquitous computing, Orlando, FL, October 2.

  49. Staples, W., & Decker, S. (2011). Between the ‘home’ and ‘institutional’ worlds: Tensions and contradictions in the practice of house arrest. Critical Criminology, 18, 1–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. State of California. (2006). Title 15: Crime prevention and corrections. Chapter 1: Rules and regulations. Sacramento: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Sullivan, L. (2010). Prison economics help drive arizona immigration law. National public radio Website. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130833741. Accessed July 22, 2011.

  52. Thompson, H. (2010). Why mass incarceration matters: Rethinking crisis, decline and transformation in postwar American history. Journal of American History, 97(3), 703–734.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Travis, J., et al. (2005). Families left behind: The hidden costs of incarceration and reentry. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Ulmer, J. (2001). Intermediate sanctions: A comparative analysis of the probability and severity of recidivism. Sociological Inquiry, 71(2), 164–193.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. US Department of Justice. (1980). Sourcebook of criminal justice statistics 1979. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Visher, C., & Courtney, S. (2006). Cleveland prisoners’ experiences returning home. Report to Urban Institute. Washington, DC.

  57. Visher, C., & Farrell, J. (2005). Chicago communities and prisoner reentry. Report to Urban Institute. Washington, DC.

  58. Visher, C., et al. (2004). Baltimore prisoners’ experiences returning home. Report to Urban Institute. Washington, DC.

  59. Vollum, S. (2002) Electronic monitoring: A research review. Corrections Compendium, 27(7), 1–4, 23–27.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Wacquant, L. (2009a). Prisons of poverty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Wacquant, L. (2009b). Punishing the poor: The Neoliberal government of social insecurity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Wacquant, L. (2010). Class, race and hyperincarceration in revanchist America. Daedulus, 139(3), 74–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Western, B., & Wildeman, C. (2007). Punishment and inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Western, B., & Wildeman, C. (2008). The black family and mass incarceration. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 621, 221–242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James Kilgore.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kilgore, J. Progress or More of the Same? Electronic Monitoring and Parole in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Crit Crim 21, 123–139 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-012-9165-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Criminal Justice
  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Parole Officer
  • Mass Incarceration
  • Community Supervision